3 Fantasy Football Players to Target This Season Who Finished Strong in 2018
By Dan Israeli
When preparing for drafts, it's common to look over a player's stats from the previous year to form a baseline of what to expect for the upcoming season.
However, full-season stat lines don't always tell the whole truth. It may be due to a slow recovery from a past injury, or getting acclimated to a new offense, but some players don't hit their stride until around midseason. As a result, their year-end numbers may not reflect what they're capable of going forward.
With that said, here are three players who may be poised for big seasons based on their midseason breakouts from a year ago.
3. Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Chris Carson was not bad through the first half of last season, as he posted 497 rushing yards on 111 carries (4.5 yards per rush) in seven games. He only scored two touchdowns, which is not ideal for a back that doesn't catch a ton of passes. In the second half of the season, however, Carson rushed for seven TDs, while also upping his rushing yards per game (from 71 to 93.4) and yards per carry (from 4.5 to 4.8). Carson's rise as a workhorse coincided with a reduced workload for Mike Davis, who saw his carries and yardage dip in the second half of the season. This year, Carson will no longer have to compete with Davis for touches, and is rumored to see an increase in receptions. With Rashaad Penny falling further behind him on the depth chart, Carson has a chance to post a season similar to the glory days Marshawn Lynch in 2019.
2. Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys
After a promising start to his career, with back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons, Amari Cooper started to fade on a Raiders team that struggled to generate offense. He was on his way to a second straight disappointing campaign last year, but everything changed for Cooper following a midseason trade to the Cowboys. After averaging 46.7 yards per game in Oakland and scoring just one touchdown, Cooper averaged 80.6 yards per game in Dallas, while also scoring six touchdowns and increasing his catch total. If you were to extrapolate his numbers from the last eight games of 2018 into a full 16-game season, Cooper would finish with 96 catches for 1,334 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. Numbers like that would have made Cooper a top 10 WR, yet he is currently the WR13 according to average draft position (AD). With a full offseason to get more acclimated with Dak Prescott, Cooper can arguably exceed his pace from last season in 2019.
1. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Perhaps one of the most polarizing players in the second round of drafts, Dalvin Cook has yet to play a full NFL season in two years. He tore his ACL in Week 4 of his rookie year and was limited to 11 games last season as he attempted his comeback from the injury. As a result, it was going to take Cook some time to find his feet. When he did, Cook showed the talent that made him a second-round pick of the Vikings in the 2017 NFL Draft. In his final eight games of last season, Cook rushed for 517 yards on 97 carries (5.3 yards per rush), but even more tellingly, he caught 31 balls. Cook totaled 715 scrimmage yards over those final eight games on just 128 touches. Now, playing on an offense that is expected to feature the run a lot more this year, Cook has upside for more carries and touchdowns in year three of his NFL career. His upside is that of a top five fantasy RB in 2019.
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